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Big tree bros: Darryl and Darvel Lloyd like to find trees, and only the biggest will do

Darvel Lloyd with one of the big trees at Oxbow Regional Park in Gresham (Darryl Lloyd)

On any given day over the past 20 years, fraternal twin brothers Darryl and Darvel Lloyd were likely hunkered over a map or GPS navigator in a remote section of a Pacific Northwest forest looking up.

And up.

And up.

Earlier this week Darvel Lloyd hiked the muddy trails at Oxbow Regional Park east of Gresham, home -- they say -- to the largest trees in the world so close to a metropolitan area.

“For a big tree lover like my brother and me, this is paradise,” he said while a steady rain pelted down. “There's still parts of this thousand-acre park that we haven't even been into. We had a good idea where they were because we had Google Earth photographs. You can't really tell the height of the trees from Google Earth, but you could sure tell where the largest would be.”

Darvel -- who lives in Portland -- was hiking solo this day while his brother worked on a book about Mount Adams at his home in Hood River.

Their passion for trees comes from their dad, a forester, who they followed on his forest trips.

“He actually discovered and saved from logging the largest Douglas fir near Seaside," Darvel said. “Fifteen-and-a-half feet in diameter and about 220 feet to a broken top.

“We were in awe.”

That awe began to flower into a retirement quest that's taken them to untrammeled wilderness in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, the Oregon coast and the truly monster redwoods in California's Prairie Creek.

“We just go to our atlas and go to the internet and find out how to get there, where can we stay,” Lloyd said. “We don't usually camp out. I think it's just being out here and going to places we've never been before.”

At the end of each trip, Darryl puts together a record, usually by email, to share with friends, of their tree quest, complete with photographs.

Some trees are so tall the images have to be stitched together.

Darvel is usually standing at the base of the tree for perspective.

“He can stitch these things together,” Darvel said. “We have stitched photos of some of these in the park here. Shoot the entire tree from back and usually try to get above it a little ways to avoid the distortion.”

Darvel says it's hard not to be impressed with trees that have survived 600-plus years of man and nature.

“I mean, here they've withstood fire and earthquakes and logging and loggers,” he said. “And the immense height. Of course it's so hard to tell the height of these things when you look up -- but still.”

And as long as their creaky knees hold out, the appeal for the brothers -- now in their mid-70s -- shows little signs of waning.

“It's truly a passion of ours,” he said. “I don't know, it gets in your blood, I guess. I think it's just being out here and going to places we've never been before.”

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